Bulletin board: aviation industry news round-up

This week: Passenger demand picks up in August; Austrian Airlines to start Birmingham service; Spirit increases Puerto Rico focus and more.

A round-up of news from the aviation industry this week.

Passenger demand picks up in August - IATA

Global passenger demand, measured in total revenue passenger kilometres (RPKs), climbed 3.8 percent in August 2019 compared to the same month last year, according to figures released by IATA. This was above the 3.5 percent annual increase for July.

August capacity, measured by available seat kilometres (ASKs), increased by 3.5 percent while load factor climbed 0.3 percentage point to 85.7 percent, which was a new monthly record.

“While we saw a pick-up in passenger demand in August compared to July, growth remains below the long-term trend and well-down on the roughly 8.5 percent annual growth seen over the 2016 to Q1 2018 period,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general and chief executive.

“This reflects the impact of economic slowdowns in some key markets, uncertainty over Brexit and the trade war between the US and China. Nonetheless, airlines are doing a great job of matching capacity to demand.”

Frontier opens three CVG routes

Frontier Airlines has started new service from Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) to three Florida destinations: Fort Lauderdale (4 weekly), Miami (4x) and Sarasota/Bradenton (3x).

In addition, it will begin service to Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport on 15 November 2019.

“We’re excited to begin three new nonstop routes to Florida for Cincinnati area travellers,” said Daniel Shurz, senior vice president, commercial for Frontier Airlines.

“Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky residents have welcomed our low fares and friendly flying experience and we look forward to continue our outstanding partnership with the airport and community.”

Austrian Airlines to start Birmingham service

Austrian Airlines will become Birmingham Airport’s newest airline from 1 January 2020 when it begins direct scheduled services to the Austrian capital of Vienna.

During the winter season, the carrier will operate a four-weekly service on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. From summer 2020, this will increase to a daily schedule.

Tom Screen, Aviation Director at Birmingham Airport, said: “With services initially operating four times weekly, the carrier will grow to daily flights by the summer 2020 and we look forward to welcoming yet another Star Alliance carrier to Birmingham Airport which will provide more choice to onward destinations across Asia and Eastern Europe.”

The Austrian Airlines service, which will replace the current point-to-point Eurowings flights, will be operated by an Embraer 195 aircraft with a capacity of up to 120 seats.

Spirit increases Puerto Rico focus

US carrier Spirit Airlines is adding two new destinations and more flights on existing routes to San Juan in Puerto Rico.

Beginning 19 December 2019, the carrier will offer daily non-stop service from Newark Liberty International Airport and Boston Logan International Airport to San Juan’ Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport.

It will also add an additional daily flight between San Juan and Philadelphia International Airport on 1 March 2020.

“We are constantly looking for growth opportunities in our network and we are so proud of the growth we have had in Puerto Rico over the years,” said John Kirby, Spirit’s vice president of network planning.

Earlier this year, Spirit launched non-stop service connecting San Juan to Baltimore, Philadelphia and Tampa.

Air Transat brings A321neoLR to the UK

Air Transat has become the first airline to operate the Airbus A321neoLR on transatlantic flights to the UK.

The aircraft arrived at London Gatwick from Toronto Pearson Airport on Tuesday (8 October 2019) and will enter regular operation on Air Transat’s daily service on the route from November. It will also make its debut at Glasgow Airport on 31 October.

The first of the Canadian carrier’s A321neoLR joined its fleet in May 2019 with a total of 15 set to join the airline’s all Airbus fleet by 2022. 

London - Las Vegas flights launch

Canada's Swoop, the WestJet subsidiary, has launched flights between Ontario’s London International Airport and Las Vegas McCarran. The route will operate twice-weekly on Thursday and Sunday.

This addition to Swoop's network is the sixth route from London, with year-round and seasonal routes including Orlando, Cancun, Abbotsford, Edmonton and Halifax.

"The addition of the London - Las Vegas route provides the opportunity for more Canadians to travel throughout North America at a price that works for them," said Steven Greenway, president of Swoop.

OAG data shows that Swoop is the only operator on the route.